Sunday, October 31, 2010


California has some highly competitive races in Tuesday’s general election that are considered so close a winner cannot be predicted presently, as is true in many States. Candidates television advertisements and attacks are negative and have been vicious. Campaign spending has been incredibly high.

Incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat, is considered to be in a fight for her political life against Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO. One most recent voter poll has the spread widening with Sen. Boxer 5% ahead of Fiorina. Another poll reports a much narrower spread with the candidates closer to being equal.

Boxer is attacked as being a habitual big spender throughout her twenty-eight Senate years. She is accused of representing all that’s wrong with government today, most notably because she supported Obama administration legislation, especially health care. Many other issues Boxer continues to support focus on immigration, environmental concerns, oil drilling, a woman’s right to choose, preservation of Medicare, and non-privatization of Social Security.

Carly Fiorina’s vulnerabilities include ads focused on the fact she was fired from HP, received typically high executive bonuses after she sent 30,000 U. S. workers jobs to China. Some of those workers appear in ads relating their personal experiences, including having to train the new employees who would replace them.

Interestingly, Fiorina now says little or nothing about her Republican affiliation (earlier she was endorsed by the Tea Party’s unofficial female leader.) Also, Fiorina doesn’t mention her previously stated support for her Party’s classic voter-divisive issues that call for privatizing Social Security, eliminating newly adopted health care reforms, supporting Arizona immigration policies, allowing offshore oil drilling, repealing a woman’s legal right to choose (Roe vs Wade.) Contrarily, she says she won’t hesitate to vote against her Party’s issue positions, but I haven’t heard her state any differences from the Republican Party line to date.

We’re also voting for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. The incumbent, David Dreier, has been part of the Republican Party voting block mired in ideology. Those Representatives failed to seek a way to effectively compromise for resolving the critical issues facing our nation. He has served almost thirty years in Congress, and in recent past elections experienced a decline in voter support, but hasn’t always had a strong opponent. The amount of support he receives this election will be interesting to see.

I haven’t noted that he offers to create anything new but Rep. Dreier will try to repeal the newly adopted health plan. Likely he will continue to support all his Party’s political positions in lock step, including privatizing Social Security. If the Republican Party becomes the Congressional majority, Representative Dreier will once again become Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.

Russ Warner, Democrat, opposes Dreier for the second time because he believes our California 26th District has not been well represented. Warner notes he is the owner of a small business while Rep. Dreier is the 20th richest person in the U.S. House of Representatives. Warner supports some significant opposing views to those of his opponent including legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies. I did meet Mr. Warner but my schedule permitted me to talk only briefly with him. The Democratic Headquarters offered little printed issue material about him, but he referred me to his official website.

Multiple news reports reveal candidates for California Governor are breaking expenditure records. Democrat, Jerry Brown, a former governor from 1975-1983, is managing to keep up with his primary opponent, Republican candidate Meg Whitman. She is a former eBay CEO, who is breaking all campaign contribution records, even contributing 141.5 million of her personal funds in her effort to become California’s next Governor.

Is Whitman trying to buy the Governor's office? Will using her personal funds insure she will be more independent of outside influences? Will Brown be any more influenced by outside influences because he has had to rely on others for campaign contributions in order to compete?

Interestingly, one television ad I thought was amusing was a split screen showing our current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman. He is shown speaking excerpted cliche-like promising statements from his old candidacy speeches, then Whitman is shown uttering the same words verbatim in her current campaign speeches. He has been unable to keep those promises so voters can decide for themselves how realistic it is to believe Whitman will be any more successful, or if it’s just more of the “tell the voter what they want to hear.”

Another interesting historical fact about Schwarzenegger centers on his becoming California’s Governor years ago. Rep. David Dreier promoted the candidacy from the very beginning. I was displeased that two years into our then Governor Davis’ term a recall was instituted because of a proposal he made to address our State’s financial crisis. Taxpayers certainly did not need to incur the additional expense of that special election. After a year or two when Gov. Schwarzenegger was also unsuccessful getting our State Legislators to compromise and resolve the problem, he then instituted the exact same proposal of the Governor he had replaced. Words and promises come easy for political candidates but often are only wishful thinking.

Be aware that periodic proposals continue to surface in the media promoting U. S. Constitution changes, specifically to enable Schwarzenegger to become President, as they have ever since he became California’s Governor. Presently, legally he cannot be President because he was born in a nation (Austria) other than the United States of America. Curiously, some Republicans have persisted in spreading the falsehood that our current President was born outside the U.S. If I believed in conspiracy I might wonder if there was a somehow-related political agenda.

I won’t go into our voting ballot’s State issues,including redistricting. One measure is designed to address the State of California's dire financial straits that have prevailed for too many years. Our State Legislature has been ineffective for these years, unable to even agree on passing an annual budget until months after the legal deadline. Part of the problem has to do with requirements a 2/3 majority have to agree for the budget and other legislation to pass. This provision was established because the State Legislator’s were freely spending tax monies and some effort needed to be taken to force them to be more thoughtful. Now we are at the opposite end of the continuum where no meaningful expenditure can be made because not enough legislators can agree.

There are State Measures on which we’ll vote this election that can rectify some of these and additional shortcomings, but these measures also carry provisions of which I am leery or do not support. If I choose to cast any of my votes favorably that will be because I’ve decided to compromise – something State and Federal Legislators have been unable to do for too many years.

The outcome of voting on one of our State Measures is likely of considerable national interest – legalizing marijuana. The pros and cons on this issue are being highly debated. Currently statistical predictions indicate the measure is going down to defeat. Los Angeles Times columnist, Steve Lopez, conducted a driving test while under the weed’s influence with the approval and under the supervision of the California Highway Patrol to assess how his skills behind the wheel would be affected. He wrote about his experience and observations HERE.

On the really basic local level my Claremont community is being asked to pass a highly controversial $95 million school bond issue. Bond issues have been passed here previously, but I have never before known one to generate such resistance. In fact, usually there has been little or no opposition in this city that has been very supportive of education throughout the over thirty years I’ve lived here. A bond issue was passed a few years ago which many residents believe was not spent wisely, nor were the funds dispensed as this large objecting group expected. This new bond issue is believed by those in opposition to not clearly define the projects and priority list for how these new monies will be spent. They demand more transparency, specific itemizations and greater accountability.

This local school level is exactly where voting is most critical and needs to receive the attention of all voters everywhere. Similar transparency and accountability should progress to all government levels including city and upward. All too often, for too many years, non-Presidential elections draw too few voters, but this needs to change. Maybe voting this time signifies the general public’s increasing awareness we need to be involved in all elections.

Low voter turnout percentages in U.S. elections always amaze me. This general election is no exception with statisticians predicting 30%, but they report a higher turnout could be as much as 40%.

I expect virtually everyone in this nation considers they are a patriotic good citizen. Most individuals probably highly value our republic system of government that emphasizes individual rights while incorporating democratic principles. Surely preserving our personal freedoms is highly desired by all citizens. Our systems basic fundamental responsibility requires each of us to participate in selecting those who govern us that formulate the laws, rules and regulations we follow, yet less than half, or often just a third, of qualified voters actually cast a ballot in our elections.

Recently I heard a news report attributed to statistic compilers that had concluded, even if every citizen voted that the breakdown of vote percentages per candidate would be about the same as those actual percentages based on the low voter turnout. Perhaps that provides some solace to those of us who vote and wish more people would. Still, when my chosen candidate or issue does not succeed I feel some disappointment, even anger, that had others cast a ballot their votes might well have altered the elections outcome, my future and our nation’s future.

Pundit speculation continues about exactly what sort of referendum this Presidential mid-term vote will reflect. I think the main message will be the electorate continues to be angered with the failure of our governing officials to more efficiently work together toward solving our nation’s serious problems. I also believe an unrealistic impatience prevails among citizens who fail to recognize the length of time and actions required for our full recovery. I strongly believe, no matter who is elected, congressional actions need to be taken to include provisions that reverse the trend toward further elimination of our nation's middle class.

I think a healthy change that would facilitate individuals working together to solve our country's problems would be more likely to occur if sanity through civil discourse prevailed, if rhetoric would be toned down in an effort to heal our nation's bitter polarization. We can continue to disagree without such animosity, without resorting to name-calling and to agree to disagree by respecting the views of others.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


“Along The Way” serendipitously launched onto the Internet four years ago. I continue to be genuinely appreciative of those who so generously offered their time and assistance, especially when I realized I had catapulted my blog prematurely into the blogosphere, then, quite unprepared, I chose to continue the activity.

My personal life had been significantly changed six months earlier when my husband’s health issues resulted in his sudden unexpected death. Grief’s immediate intensity for me had eventually outwardly mellowed, but my emotional vulnerability and feeling sensitivity continued at a much less obvious level to most others. The often referred to “closure,” as associated with loss, is a term of varied degree and meaning that changes over time, but is a state never fully realized, I have come to believe.

October is an especially significant month to me for many reasons that include periodic emerging memories that have caused me to give them some emphasis here.

Interspersed among my blog’s writings are a few I associate directly or indirectly with my husband. They were prompted by random thoughts of a few of my accumulated memories from our almost forty-three married years. We shared a mutual appreciation of jazz which was enhanced for me since his avocation was as a professional acoustic upright bass player. I became an even more enthusiastic listener.

Oscar Peterson’s trio was a favorite of my husband as was the regular bass player, Ray Brown. I especially recall our enjoying a small intimate live club performance. The following “You Look Good To Me” tune is presented by an unusual trio featuring pianist Peterson with double bass of both Brown and Niels Pedersen, whose jazz playing skills my husband also highly regarded. This lovely piece with bass solos is from the “Norman Granz Jazz In Montreux Presents Oscar Peterson Trio ‘77” DVD.

These past four years music audio/video inserts have selectively been incorporated into some of my writings much as this one. Certain musical artists have been my direct focus as have a few celebrities well-known in mine and earlier generations – some currently performing, others retired or deceased.

I’ve also expounded a bit on political, social, economic issues, expressing both positive and negative views depending on the subject. I’ve written about my experience adopting new digital technology, along with some of the frustrations I’ve experienced in the process. Certain activities in which I’ve engaged have been written about with accompanying videos and commentary.

My views on aging, including acceptance of natural body changes without artificial alterations, have sometimes been my focus. I’ve also shared some select personal experiences and activities from my past as well as in the present.

There have been a few written pieces in which I presented some unusual topics that reflect how my occasionally quirky thought processes sometimes wander far astray from the ordinary.

Overall, bogging has been an enjoyable experience for me. I’ve certainly enjoyed reader’s comments, reading other bloggers posts on their blog and being introduced to new bloggers.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Did you ever stop to think about whether or not you always have to have the last word in a conversation?

I've never been consciously aware that I was trying to have the last word, but maybe I was without even realizing I was doing so. I recall conversations with my husband and the exchange sometimes went beyond what could legitimately be described as a conversation. Actually, it moved into the realm of what might be considered a disagreement. Well, truthfully, when you get right down to it, the dialogue bordered on being an argument, or even crossed that border into full fledged verbal assaults on one another. Of course, our emotions were running high when we reached the full fledged conflagration level. That's when at some point he would invariably utter, "You always have to have the last word!" That accusatory, emphatically stressed sentence only served to inflame me more.

I started thinking about all this in conjunction with the realization that I had gone through my entire day and evening without uttering a single word aloud to another human being. Given that I am primarily a verbal person who is trying desperately to re-channel being so more into the written word, an occasional day like that sometimes leaves me contemplating my life, momentarily, just before my eyes close. Usually, my awareness that this has been a speechless day for me doesn't dawn on me until I go to bed at night, when my thoughts often review my day before I fall asleep. I remember the many years in my life when I would have sold my soul for even one such day of total absolute silence from speaking with another human being. My internal voice may even have voiced such a wish. Well, you know the saying, "Be careful what you wish for."

Now, about the question of whether or not I had to have the last word as he perceived, I guess, even that is a matter of opinion. I wonder if he was upset because he wanted to have the last word and I had unintentionally prevented him from doing so? I believe I've resolved that issue, but, unfortunately, he died too soon for me to share this bit of enlightenment with him. I've come to the conclusion he could very well have had the last word on numerous occasions if only his intended final sentences hadn't introduced more issues. How could I not address those? If he had only just acknowledged what I said, perhaps adding, "I don't agree," then said no more, I would have had no reason to think a response was in order. Unfortunately, we'll never get to test this system to determine how effective it might be.

Still, I have now found myself wondering if, in fact, I was unconsciously trying to have the last word in verbal discourse? If so, has this transitioned to my doing the same thing in writing? I've had some lengthy email exchanges with individuals in which I think my last comment is final (and these aren't arguments,) but the other person writes, adds something new and interesting, and off I go again. That cycle continues with neither of us ceasing to reply, yet I've been quite prepared to let the topic go and I've had reason to think, after the fact, that the correspondent has felt the same. What do we have here? Two last worders?

I'm fairly confident dialogue is one aspect of communication I practice most effectively professionally. How well I perform those skills in my personal life may be quite a different matter. I've read accounts of individuals who are very effective and skillful in their professional lives, but don't translate those actions into their personal life. For example, the plumber is most efficient with his customers installations and repairs, but doesn't provide that same superb service his spouse/partner might desire in their home. The same has been said to be true for other areas of work disciplines.

I'm not sure what the definitive explanation and answer is, but I'll be curiously more aware of my own talking and writing. This is my last word on the subject, no matter what comments any readers may leave. So, don't be trying to subtly seduce or blatantly accost me with the intent of tricking me into responding with a comment of my own to any you may write here.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


The watermelon display outside one of my markets was gastronomically enticing. A welcome addition to our neighborhood only a few years ago, this young grocery chain has stores in Arizona, California, Texas and Colorado. They specialize in farm fresh produce purchased from local farmers when possible, also natural meats, fresh seafood, dairy products, juices, and bins full of bulk foods to name just a few attractive features. We still have weekly farmers markets elsewhere in our city, and in several nearby surrounding communities. I’m most appreciative of all these often natural, organic, offerings, since I don’t have a garden of my own, multiple fruit tree varieties, or chickens, much less dairy cattle.

This time from the market I purchased a small round wide-striped green and white watermelon, just the right size for my needs. I'll grant you the flavor in many of these melons isn't as rich and sweet as the black-seed-filled larger variety, but I settle for these hybrids. My refrigerator couldn’t immediately accommodate even that small melon, so I set it aside to remain at room temperature for a couple days. Some fruits, such as the Bartlett pears, bananas, pineapple, or recently harvested apricots and peaches that I purchase, continue to ripen over a several day period, so I fully expected this watermelon would easily tolerate several days similarly.

The day came I had finished the cantaloupe and honeydew melons that had occupied space in my refrigerator, so I looked forward to chilling this juicy red-meated watermelon. Preparing to slice this fruity specimen open, I picked up the melon bag only to allow a sudden dam-bursting amount of water to pour forth, splattering all over my kitchen floor. I'm convinced I had actually chosen the perfectly ripened melon that may have been meant to be eaten the same day, or one that must have cracked ever so slightly in transit from my market to home. Had I only noticed that crack a few days ago, I would have found a way to save my melon as soon as I brought it home, but I didn't. So, no watermelon for me that night.

Later in the evening I made one of my occasional visits to First 50 Words where Virginia DeBolt offers a variety of writing prompts. Here’s the prompt I encountered there, "Nothing sounds good," and the words that came to my mind follow. Obviously, I was still reeling from the unpleasantness of my earlier watermelon fiasco, so this must be some sort of warped lament.

Caution to those of weak constitution. Recommend you not be eating when you read this:

Does anything sound good?

Unripe bananas

Soured cottage cheese

Squashy watermelon

Fizz-less soda pop

Rotting potatoes

Moldy strawberries

Root-sprouting carrots

Germ-laden water

Browned peaches

Salmonella eggs

Fermented orange juice

Slimy lettuce

Unripe raspberrries

Smushy peppers

Mouth-puckering vinegar

Blackened avocado

Spoiled mayonnaise

Punky apples

Curdled milk

Decayed fish

Nothing sounds good!

But ... wait ..... this sounds good ........

Jazz lovers will likely enjoy Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" with Miles Davis:

Here's more "Watermelon Man" with Herbie Hancock's Quintet at the north Sea Jazz Festival, especially enjoyable if you appreciate improvisation.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Streaming video from Orlando's AARP Conference (American Association of Retired Persons)has had some of my attention these days. I've also been blog tracking Cowtown Pattie at "Texas Trifles" and Frank Paynter at "Listics." They're sharing their experience as attendees.

I virtually attended an hour long Orlando session in real time featuring Mary Matalin and James Carville. They gave some serious commentary from opposite sides of the political spectrum regarding the upcoming November elections and what the results might portend for the future, including the Presidential election in two more years.

Carville says the Democrats need to just let the Republicans talk and thinks they'll talk themselves out of winning the election. He says a third party, with the Tea Pots (my term,) as an example are " bees...they sting and then they die."

Matalin bantered about their personal life as a husband and wife with opposing political views. There was lots of humor in the mix as she commented with words to the effect that she "...didn't consider divorce, but she did often consider murder."

The session's moderator asked, "How does tweeting, etc. change the country to you?" Carville compared the change now to that of being as profound as when we had the first printing press, later radio, then television. He spoke of politics being "...about framing...not how you communicate, but what you communicate."

Matalin spoke of the technology as allowing organization. She then made this alarming observation, that now that we have so many information sources, often of questionable value, more disorganized, that sorting out the credible has become more difficult. She noted that the more of this mixed information we receive, the more likely people are to react in herd-like behavior. I would suggest that we have certainly seen that happening.

I'm anticipating an early morning session with Whoopi Goldberg -- early for me on the West Coast because of the three hour time difference. In case you haven't noticed by my choice of sessions to attend, I prefer a good dose of humor infused with any serious topics.

All of these sessions, and many more on various topics pertinent to Elders, including health, caregiving, remain available on the Orlando50+ The Digital Experience site, If you miss the live streaming video a replay is available beginning 24 hours after they occur and will continue to be accessible for a period of time. Those with hearing limitations may find the sessions captioned speech helpful.

If you've never tried participating in a virtual conference, you might enjoy doing so. Anyone with a camera and microphone, as many computers today often have built-in, may actually interact with a person at some of the virtual AARP site locations other than those sessions.

(Next Day Note: AARP reported they regretted contractual limitations resulted in their being unable to present live streaming audio/video of the Whoopi Goldberg and Larry King portion of the session I had expected to see.)